Canadian Cycling Magazine
When to go
The summer is the best time to visit the Alps. The snow can be tenacious though. Stage 9 of the 2019 Tour de Suisse was supposed to be a variation of our three passes ride, but snow held on to Susten Pass into late June so organizers had to design a new route. Our final ride was on Sept. 3. It snowed in Hospental on Sept. 6.
What to carry
When you ride i n the mountains, carry cash. Restaurants at the tops of passes often don’t take credit or debit. Also, ride with lights. A strong rear light is essential in tunnels and on foggy days.
How to stay connected
I used an Alwaysonline Wireless (aow) sim card for data in Switzerland and later at Eurobike in Germany. I didn’t have voice or text, but messaging services such as Whatsa pp are so widely used in Europe that I felt well-connected. The only thing to keep in mind with aow is that you need a new plan each time you enter a different country. When I travelled to Switzerland, then Germany and then back to Switzerland, I had to make sure I had three plans lined up, which can add up.
How to skip a pass to take on another one
On weekends starting in late June and into September, you can put your bike on a diesel train for free. Had we known this fact beforehand, and had the weather been a bit more co-operative, we would have skipped Furka Pass one day to then ride Nufenen Pass and the Tremola side of Gotthard. The train would have been a great option for avoiding a second day with more than 3,000 m of climbing for something more chill, in the 2,000 m range, on new-to-us roads.
What to ride
We had bmc Roadmachines on our trip: Swiss bikes for Swiss rides. The Roadmachine 01 One came with sram Red etap axs running 46/33-tooth chainrings and a 10-33 tooth cassette. Those gears were great for getting over the climbs. The carbon-fibre endurance frame with compliance built into the seatpost, seatstays and fork rode nicely on the cobbles of Tremola.